While at first glance, these massive sculptures by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui resemble large pieces of cloth or curtains, step a little closer and you’re in for quite a surprise. These cloth-like sheets are actually made up of thousands of discarded bottle caps. “Gravity & Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui” is a new show at Brooklyn Museum that just opened and runs until August 4, 2013. Over 30 works by the globally renowned contemporary artist are on display which include 12 monumental wall and floor sculptures.
Taking thousands of old bottle caps from a distillery in Nsukku, a town in south-east Nigeria, Anatsui carefully pieces them together to form these colorful, textured hangings.
How did it all start? As the New York Times wrote, “A tipping point, or the start of one, arrived in 1998, when Mr. Anatsui invented a new art form. One day, by his own account, on a routine scavenging hunt through Nsukka, he picked up a trash bag filled with twist-off liquor bottle tops of a kind manufactured by Nigerian distilleries. Although it took him a while to realize it, he had found his ideal material: locally made, in ready supply and culturally loaded.”
Anatsui presses the bottle caps flat, twists them, cuts them into circles and then punctures them. He then wires them together into panels or blocks until they form fabric-like sheets. No doubt incredible works that must be see in person.